Changing Chapters

The more things stay the same, the more they change. Just ask Ron Corcoran, founder of Sipango. Last summer, he plugged founding chef Matthew Antonovich back into the ever-morphing nightclub-discothèque-Cal-Ital-Tuscan steak house to reanimate its long-gone culinary luster. Antonovich returned after a five-year string of cooking and non-cooking pursuits, such as real estate. Now, says Corcoran, Antonovich is leaving Sipango yet again to take a corporate chef post at Littleton, Colorado-based Champps Entertainment, where he'll develop menus for the company's 56 corporate and franchised restaurants. Antonovich's timing couldn't be better. Corcoran put his operation into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, just shy of the eatery's 10th anniversary. "We're getting very close; it's coming together," Corcoran says of Sipango's new evolutionary phase. "We've got the concept...We're just kind of riding through our bankruptcy proceedings right now." The filing, which details roughly $88,000 in assets and some $397,000 in liabilities, shows that Sipango had gross revenues of $2 million in 2003, down from $2.2 million in 2002. It also shows Sipango owes Antonovich $7,200.

Also stumbling into the Chapter 11 pit is Newport's Seafood & Steaks, the restaurant that has been lodged in West End's pre-prohibition Dallas Brewery & Bottling Works carcass for more than two decades. Owned by Steven Laham for the last eight years, Newport's struggled with $65,000 in assets against some $700,000 in liabilities. The filing shows the restaurant's revenue dipped some 3 percent in 2003, generating $1.56 million in 2003 compared with its 2002 take of $1.61 million. "Newport's is re-organizing under new investors," Laham said in an e-mail. "...We will now be able to continue operations as an independent restaurant, as we have for the last 21 years." According to court records, the restaurant has been purchased by a group headed by Laham's brother George. Salvador Soto will continue as executive chef, while Steven Laham will remain as general manager...The ornate upper Greenville Avenue structure that housed Royal Tokyo for nearly 30 years before it was damaged by fire in 2001 has been taken over by Sumo Steak & Sushi, which slipped into the building from a location just down the street. Distinguishing feature: The sushi bar is now automated, with sushi on plastic dishes domed in clear plastic on a moving conveyor belt...Meanwhile, Sumo's former neighbor, Wahoo Grill and Cantina, appears to be extinct. It's dark. The phone is disconnected. Its liquor taxes are delinquent. It opened in late 2002 in the former El Arroyo space.

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